Wednesday, October 25, 2017

all my lost fathers

Red sings on the 3rd Street Promenade between Santa Monica Blvd and Broadway. Regular hours. Something like 8 pm to 11 pm, Monday through Friday. Red must be in his 70's now and the American flag behind his chair gives him the look of a veteran. He plays his guitar seated - mostly folk ballads in the vein of John Denver, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan. When he's playing I can't help but be drawn in. These are the songs of my childhood and Red's steady voice wraps around me like a long-awaited paternal hug.

I'm joined by a homeless man in Red's orphan audience. His white-yellow beard reaches down to his chest. He sits on the same kind of walker my grandmother used. She called it her Red Racer. When it's not aiding in that unutterably tedious task of walking, it substitutes quite well for a chair. I watch him gently slip a blanket from beneath his seat, unfold, and place it neatly across his lap. When it slips askew moments later my impulse is to reach out and righten it for him.

I am not repulsed by your sunburnt fingers or back-alley cologne my fellow music enthusiast, my friend. Nor am I frightened at the prospect of another thwarted act of love. 

I have not forgotten you, John Denver. I have not forgotten you, Bob, Paul, Art, Cat, Leonard, or James. I have not forgotten you all, my lost fathers.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

slings and arrows

I've been hurting over the willingness of people I thought I was once close with to villainize me. It's really a strange thing being elevated in status from a person basically struggling, confused, and heartbroken, to an entity of mythological proportion. But, I suppose a threat doesn't have feelings, it's just a threat - an object of scorn and fear. While it is a distinct and undeniable downgrade from being human, it's not a position without power.

This is the dual life of the scapegoat. You are the honorary symbol of dysfunction, yet the only one who gets credit for having any agency. Someone points a finger and says she made me do it, or better yet, I would never do that. While I get to remain responsible for my own choices, everyone else involved is just a puppet.

In this black and white world, I am the black, the wrong, the bad. And as the bad one, I lost the right to feel hurt. I became invisible behind a screen on which others projected their fears (and formed alliances behind). People secretly love a villain. It validates what they always suspected to be true, that they are better than others. Disregard a person's total hypocrisy in numerous other ways - their transgressions big and small - on this count, they are fucking pious and will scream it from the rooftops.

Forgiveness is a slow process. Being human isn't enough, you have to deserve what you get. Well, I've decided I get to hurt. My gift to myself. I won't pretend the slings and arrows don't still land because they do. But I would rather sit with my grief rather than run to new dependencies. I will sit with my imperfections because I am ashamed. Not for all the debts I'm accused of owing, the pound of flesh, but for trading my love, my sense of self-worth for a lie.

Baba Yaga

You can hide behind another, like a bairn behind its mother's
skirts, but you're still scared of me. And you should be
for I've shed my earthly status for the realm of fantasy.

In the funhouse mirror of your eyes, I'm difficult to read,
as deformed as Baba Yaga sharpening her teeth.
But the bony one is hard to kill, I won't die easily.

Not because I'm supernatural or impervious to your swing.
It's simply hard to win a fight against your own psychology
(and it began long, long before I was ever on the scene).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You were beautiful unmasked.

Naked to the bone, the burdens of your sisters
gone. The strapping youth, a hero sojourner fighting battles
(but mostly monsters in the closet) = (Father).

If I could but strip away the husk and free the golden seed
of pestilence, of fear. But I can't. Unadorned, you were
my Adonis. In costume, just an ugly child of his.

Monday, January 30, 2017

In a few days, my understanding no more enriched than now, I place myself in the center of a green crater off the coast of Maui.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

one, two

it's ok, really
no judgment
just numbers
like 4 follows 3

you're simply not 
strong enough yet
in yourself,
not for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

don't stop the music

Walking to my car last night I ran into a neighbor and his friend. Sometimes it's ok to be vulnerable. You choose your moments or perhaps they are chosen for you. My building has covered parking in the rear of the building that opens to the street behind. There's an indenture in the wall behind the cars - a concrete stoop mostly hidden from view. Dominic and his friend meet here at what seems to be odd intervals to talk and (from the smell I would assume) smoke pot.

I take a seat between them without asking and am thankful when they don't object. An 80's mix of R&B plays on Dominic's phone. They are guys and I'm a girl, but there's no flirtation. People are people and right now I need it to be as simple as that. We commiserate over our crappy parking spots and swap stories of scratched car panels. We talk about Los Angeles. How it has changed and how it has stayed the same. Dominic's friend leaves.

Yarbrough and Peoples' Don't Stop the Music begins to play. I know this song from a disco tape my sister and I used to dance to as children. I don't have to think about it too much. The space hangs there between us, suspended by a few bars of music. I sing. And I let my voice carry. There have been so few moments lately, so little room for the heart. It doesn't lessen or even dislodge my hurt (which hangs somewhere between my ribs, sticky and unforgiving as tar). But I know I've been witnessed in some small way. And my idiot self is made easier to live with by it. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Saturday, June 13

6:30 – Woke
7:15 – Morning sitting in the Ballroom
8:00 – Breakfast

Comments were made of the completion variety, several relating to the performance and the audience's reaction. My observation was that the right impulses seemed to arise out of being present, sometimes bringing about surprising or unexpected turns of events, obstacles, and fears, which were overcome by, again, becoming present. Afterward, I realized my comment was poorly timed, but was able to laugh at the irony. 

10:30 (?) - Intro team with Curt, Tony and I for guitar mechanics.

Some insecurity about whether commentary from me would be supportive or disruptive to the group. I felt I couldn’t quite hold the space. A wish to see what is needed for the Intros post-performance. 

Private lessons:
12:30 – John (Intro)
12:45 – Rodolfo

1:00 - Lunch – several performances

2:30 – Fabian
2:45 – Joe (Intro)
3:00 – Henry (lie down)
3:15 – John Lovas
3:30 – David M

4:00 – Tea/Staff meeting

I felt supported by the role, the team, by Sandra, by my Aim. I feel I have more of a sense, now, what my direction is from this point going forward.

5:00 – Keynotes

These began strong but halfway through I could feel the group tiring a little. It's been a day of talking. A story shared by Frank involving a Mr. Pierre and Mr. Gurdjieff, two dinners, a particularly good dish, under and over-tipping. I took the last opportunity to comment. Frank said if I hadn’t added the word grateful something would be missing in the story - something important that made it complete. 

6:30 – John Smith (lie down)
6:45 – Aoi
7:00 – Dinner

Many performances this evening. Not all were especially well-prepared or sensitive to their audience. One, in particular, elicited a white flag of surrender being waived from the head table. Performances by Tim and the work of Igor and Fabian were particularly good from where I was sitting.

Quick shower and change.
Running down the hill in the dark.
Tuning in the ladies bathroom.

9:45 - Completion circle with guitars in the Ballroom.

Circulation in C. Whiz. Robert called Eye of the Needle and Hope. My left hand sucked. I don’t know why I was surprised. I hardly practiced all week. In the blue tie-dye shift dress. A trickle of sweat made it down the length of one side of my body.

A hasty calling for housework. Pictures are taken for Facebook.

I went to the cabin and packed. Was the recipient of something unexpected and most welcome courtesy of Dev and others. Conversation with Sandra.

11:15 - Completion of housework in the Dining Room. Curt fists us out.

Merch table. Shared a laugh with Mary Beth and schmoozed. Glenmorangie (Sherry Cask, 12 yr) shared outside the Upper Lodge with Patricia, Joe, Adrian, Dev and Julia.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Friday, June 12

6:45 - Woke, showered. Two separate health issues which have been bothering me all week have come to a point.
7:20 - Sitting in cabin
8:00 - Breakfast
9:30 - Staff Meeting

Gave short, private AT lessons to Julian, John, William, and Igor

12:30 - Personal Meeting

I frequently lack an emotionally clear response to being thanked. Where the polite thing to do would be to acknowledge it, thus acknowledging the person giving it, I am sometimes uncomfortably-speechless instead.

A flight back up to the cabin. On our way to the dining room MB and I spy Michael Hendrix, shoeless, hot-stepping it through the grass back to the ballroom. He looks like a wood nymph. I find out later he runs without shoes. This is a thing.

1:00 - Lunch

I'm asked to join a ladies circle outside where a song is being presented. It is a spiritual. The idea is to sing together at dinner. An intention for the performance is suggested.

Gave Frank a table turn. Despite the wide gap in our experience, that he puts me at ease.

Ran into Glenn and begged a little 3rd Relation help. We worked on it briefly in the Ballroom, both of us dripping with sweat. 

3:00 - BNI Kids Jam

The kids bring a smile to my face and many others who stand with me in the circle. It's difficult, as an adult, to be free in the right way. The kids demonstrate it for us.

I don't feel great about my circulating and mess up on Eye of the Needle. I'm a little surprised. I feel awake - as though my attention is alive, but somehow outside of myself. Disconnected.

The kids exit in a line up the hill and we stand in silence for what feels like a long time. For the first few minutes our standing in silence is, to me, beautiful, welcome, even human. Eventually though a slight awkwardness seems to creep in. We're not sure what to expect. Are we waiting for something? Perhaps there has been some miscommunication? The kids do not return and we disperse from the circle.

I nap through Tea and Hideyo's circle.

6:00 - A ladies' meeting with Tom has been scheduled at the same time. I decide to honor my commitment to Joe's lesson. A long turn for Joe. A thunderstorm arrives halfway through. Sheets of rain. The trees bend. It moves over quickly and leaves us a bit cooler than we were before.

A silent coordination of movements with Tom in the Ballroom to open windows now that the rain has stopped. I take a seat in the back of the room near the open door.

6:30 Sitting/quiet time before dinner

I notice SBC and a few others in a circle. I join them. The song is let go of.

7:00 - Dinner

A moment of silence arrives with a recognizable quality of benevolence. A response within me, an opening of sincerity. I renew my wish, my prayer for remembrance, for closeness, for the next step no matter what. A bodily sensation. Holding it, I realize this is "fear". Tears come. Moments pass. The tables begin to stir again. I get up and walk out to the porch. The lake is there before me. Ripples across the surface. The density of the trees around it. Gratitude comes, then a sense of calm.

After dinner, I make my way back from the dining hall across the field to the Ballroom porch where I teach. It is dusk. There are robins. The rocks in the grass ahead of me look like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean.

Private AT turns to Nikita and Alex

Hurried up the hill to the cabin for a quick shower and change.
Hurried down the hill to the Ballroom and took a seat in the second row on the left-hand side behind Mary Beth. Aileen and Glenn are to my right. Nikita is standing in the back.

10:00 - The Intro's concert. They are greeted by an enthusiastic audience. I receive an invitation to dance. There's a hesitation in me, but I accept. Dancing, a moment arrives when I realize I have lost touch with the rest of the room, specifically with the performers. I sit down again.

There is an encore.

I have an impulse, receive a nod, and make my way to the green room. When I arrive I realize I have no real plan. I think back to my first Intro experience. What I have to say is poorly articulated, but well-meant. I suspect the performance has gone at least three different ways for our intros. Some have decided they liked the performance, others that they did NOT(!) like it while a few others seemed to be in a process of digesting the experience.

The concert concludes. The Ballroom is returned to order.

I run into Patrick White and Rico outside. They like my voice.

Walking up
the light from the Ballroom
in the forest
through the dark
my shadow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thursday, June 11

6:45 - Woke late, dressed in a hurry.
Acted on a gut feeling and wounded a friend's feelings.
7:15 - Did my sitting on the picnic table outside our cabin with birds.

On the way down the hill, thinking on how to manage AT in Sandra's absence and also honor and include Kim's AT experience/offer to teach on the course, a solution arrives. I've been wanting to work with the BNI kitchen team and she has a presentation on tensegrity that will take 15 minutes. We can split the BNI group at OM's regular time, making sure everyone gets a chance to work with both of us and relieving each of us of having to present individually for more than 15-20 minutes. This idea was met favorably by Kim.

8:00 - Breakfast was especially good.

I missed an opportunity to sign up for a personal meeting.

9:30 Staff meeting
10:30 AT in dining room w/ Kim and Erin

I go overtime with both groups. There is much we can work on when it comes to being present in the kitchen and my enthusiasm sometimes causes me to run long. Something to be aware of.

10:30 - Intro team with buddies
11:30 - BNI in Ballroom

The opportunity to support a friend presents itself. When we part ways best wishes are sent.
Some private reflections on this being the middle. The course has definitely sped up and issues which seem characteristic of the middle are rearing their heads.

1:00 Lunch

Comments and questions during lunch. The hero's journey.

2:30 - Intro Team AT lie-down with Erin
3:00 - How to make a mistake with Tom
4:00 - Tea

My missed opportunity to sign up for a personal meeting is remedied.
Private AT lessons with Alex, Sarah, and Joe

5:00 - Intros with Robert
5:00 - Keynotes with Frank

I acted as interpreter/amplifier/translator once more. This time Frank asked no commentary be given. One observation was particularly intense.

Caught Sandra up on recent events, some of which have potential ramifications for the course. How to deal best with these? A meeting helps clarify our course of action.

7:00 - Dinner with several performances

I'm sitting, facing out of the dining room towards the lake. Outside, dusk is approaching. I'm looking at the center of the table where a pitcher of water, a few glasses and a couple of plates sit. I notice something I had not before - the circular, yellowish light of the overhead lamps. I'm sure they have been on the whole time, but I didn't notice their light until it was contrasted by the approaching darkness.

A reflection on meaning in regard to my question about opposites and my tendency to label one side of the pendulum bad and the other good. Here it is clear there is neither, just a necessary relationship.

After dinner a short meeting with Patrick Smith, seeking help.

8:45 - Ladies in the Wonder Room

A personal experience from the course is shared. The discussion seems to go well, but still better for some than others. Nonetheless, I believe what is necessary has been discharged.

On a personal note, it is interesting to see how many of us feel responsible for the well-being of one another. It is unclear to me if this is healthy or not, just as it is unclear to me where responsibility begins and ends. It is muddy. I don't feel qualified. There also seems to be some difference in comfort around consensus. Some seem to want agreement while others are more comfortable with just being heard. I find out later, at least one person present does not feel heard at all.

10:00 - Ballroom for repertoire

Pieces are called out and we split into small groups.

Worked with a small group in the lady's bathroom on Hope. It's evening. Most of us seem to be giddy-tired and it is still remarkably hot out. I am a terrible leader and have to ask Sarah to count us in. Our numbers grow. We move to the hallway and are joined by Curt who outlines for us the structure of the piece. We are also joined by a small group capable of working the circulation. Sarah leaves and rejoins, flute in hand. Yay! The tempo is a bit slow and there is an inclination to speed-up, but it's coming together.

11:15 Repertoire run through

So much fun. Some great playing. So much so, I forget how tired and hot I am and just enjoy it. Adrian and Collin's work together sticks out in my mind. Several curious Intros were about. So far, this may be the best representation of what we are able to accomplish together as a circle.

I am driven back up the hill to my cabin by Sarah, grateful for the air-conditioning and laughter.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Wednesday, June 10

6:45 - Woke
7:15 - Morning Sitting

Passing into the Ballroom I notice several Intros in the Ratty Room. I join them, thinking RF will be presenting the exercise. When he doesn't arrive, I worry. This is, by far, the shortest-feeling 45 minute sitting I've ever had. After raising a false alarm, I find I had either misunderstood or failed to hear that he was presenting in the Wonder Room this morning.

Breakfast of slimy, tepid porridge.

9:30 - Staff meeting
10:30 - Orchestral Maneuvers
10:30 - Guitar Mechanics Intro team in Ballroom with Curt and I

"Curt, are they allowed to breath?"
Afterward, a moment's rest is stolen in the cabin.

1:00 - LUNCH - Borscht

Short meeting with Sandra regarding tomorrow morning, short meeting with Joe regarding a good time to work with the kitchen team.

During housework, a table is moved to the patio just outside the Ballroom for my use teaching private lessons. It has a view of the lake.

Have I mentioned it's bloody hot? And humid.

3:00 - Intro team in Wonder Room (using our arms and legs, looking around the room from the occipital joint, etc) / BNI repertoire in ballroom

It is a tight squeeze in the room (which is bright, with hardwood floors, a green chalkboard on one end and windows lined pleasantly with rainbow-colored curtains). As with the previous day's teaching, there is a moment where I wonder what the hell I'm going to do and whether or not anything I'm saying is making sense to anyone. I stick with it. This is a responsive group who are, for the most part, holding open a space for the teaching. Several great questions at the end of the session by several students who have hung back. In some ways, this moment is the most instructive. I see how one good question from a student can change things for the entire group. Some hesitation and curiosity about what the BNI team is doing in the adjoining room.

4:00 - Tea

Curt skipping stones.

Sitting on the bench with Frank overlooking the lake. This is the closest I've gotten to the water. He's interested in the fish - how they cross from their world into another the moment they break the surface going after a bug. He's hard of hearing, but can understand me. Have I been trained? No, but in the last few years I finally got up the guts to sing karaoke. Which songs? Julie London, Cry Me a River and Stray Cats. Would I translate for the meeting? Of course.

5:00 Keynotes

My observation from the previous night: I am sitting in the outer circle and the lights go off. My immediate feeling is of relief: I don't have to feel self-conscious anymore. But something comes with that, a feeling that I'm no longer held responsible. I mentally begin accusing my fellow musicians of having let something necessary for music go. Then the thought, "How do I verify this?" and I remember to listen.

Accurately repeating what people said was difficult, a bit of a performance. The tricky part was measuring/lining up my own ability (or inability) to correctly remember what was being said with the natural pauses/line breaks/breaths of the speaker. A very interesting experience for me.

Gave a chair turn to Dave and afterward a floor turn to Tim.

6:30 - Qi Gong with the gorgeous tree next to us in the wind, the rocks behind, lake in front and a sense of the moving energy between my hands and that I don't know what I'm doing. I felt very awkward. It was a good feeling though.

7:00 - Dinner

I sat next to Tony who sat next to Frank. I've been avoiding sitting at the head table. Not sure why, but no real need to press myself for an answer.

A clear moment of recognizing and labeling the sensation of being physically tired. Connected to that are thoughts that are slightly self-aggrandizing. I've done well. I try to resist taking credit or feeling special. It seems I am just tired and there are fewer filters. Certain kinds of thoughts slip in when and where they can.

Our work for tonight? By show of hands, two options are most popular: sitting in the Upper Lodge or Ballroom with guitars.

Back in the cabin, guitars are out. There is casual talking.

9:45 - Sitting/Ballroom with Guitars

I imagine myself sitting in the upper lodge and put myself in the ballroom with my guitar strapped on. I have a clear sense that both of these are a No for me. My cabin-mates leave and I slip into my pajamas, which are comfortable. My bed beckons. I'm standing in the bathroom when I realize two things: first, that this sensation is familiar, like the self I left at home who is sometimes a little too comfortable, and two, there is a third option I haven't considered. I'm an AT teacher. I can show up without my guitar. There is some waffling, some inner wriggling, but to this thought there is no clear NO, just the embarrassment I'll feel showing up late. I dress and run down the hill to the Ballroom where Robert works from within the circle. Circulations. Whiz.

There is a moment, watching when an association rises up in me - an emotion from the past connected to something I see in the circle. I begin to tear up. Again, a familiar sensation. I've made an association and fed my emotional reaction. Now it has grown into tears and I am losing touch with what is going on in the room. I ask myself if this is something I am willing or able to put to the side so I can re-engage with what is actually going on.

Walking back the phrase "don't feed the animals" pops into my head. Part of my habitual make-up is to feed certain thoughts/emotions and not others.

Afterward, some bad news necessitates a trip to another cabin where reasons to laugh are found (dildo cozy) and the bravery of one woman is apparent to all present.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tuesday, June 9

6:30 - Rise and dress

7:15 - Morning sitting

A moment walking in, a choice is made to sit on the right-hand side of the room. I realize as I am following my feet that there is sunlight falling on this side of the room while there is still darkness in the corners of the other. I take a seat, feel the cool air from the open window behind me on my shoulders and back. 45 minutes. First, circulation of attention through the body, two rotations of LHM and once through the 60-point exercise. A very asleep left foot needs awakening and I'm up.

8:00 - To breakfast. Eggs and oatmeal with strawberry yogurt. Silence visited, but I was not there to greet it.

9:30 - Staff meeting in the Small Room

Aim: Allow myself to follow the right impulses as they show up and support the presence of AT on the course.

The meeting is underway. Several scheduling bits and pieces are called out. I have a clear sense that the right place for me is with the Intro team at 3:00 pm but, I hesitate. I feel unsure. Is this the right time? Perhaps I should save it for after I've had a chance to get Sandra's feedback. Lunch maybe?

The meeting adjourns and, as we walk out, I realize I have just missed an opportunity to follow through with my Aim. I mechanically move to fix this mistake. I pull aside PG, who is in charge of the scheduling and let him know my 3:00 p.m. intention to work with the Intro team. TG overhears this and seems to assume responsibility for my mistake.

10:30 - Orchestral Maneauvers (OM) with Sandra (first two relationships) - I am late due to an unforeseen complication.

Leaving OM, I notice my Intro AT with the Intro team at 3:00 pm is not on the schedule. I mention this to the person standing next to me who suggests I write it in the schedule. It doesn't feel completely right, but I do it anyway and again, immediately regret it.

10:45 - Intro team's first notes with RF

11:45 - Beginner/Intermediate (BNI) in Ballroom with buddies Tony and Curt. Circulating C-Major in one to three octaves, with return, plus variations. I sat in the corner with Frank.

1:00 - Lunch

Our work for today? I am preparing myself to speak when Curt calls out my 3:00 pm Intro meeting. It is clear how my emotional startle/reactivity has created an energy leak, squandering several other people's energy in an attempt to right my small fail from earlier. If I had been patient and trusted the right moment would come, I could have lessened the impact on myself and others. Also a clear sense here of the potential effects of simply labeling something a mistake. How might this have gone differently had I not?

A brief chat with Curt outside the dining room looking out on the lake about the pendulum swinging and what it means to walk on two legs. I've been holding a question about opposites for several days now.


2:45 - Intro Team Intro to AT with Erin in what is now known as the Ratty Room
(According to RF it has ratty chairs and tacky carpet. It does.)

At approximately 3:00, we have circled up in the Ballroom and begun exploring habitual patterns of tension, giving attention to our bodies from the soles of our feet to the top of the head, a basic definition of AT, locating, experientially, where our joints are and a new idea/way to sit and stand, with me going around the circle putting hands-on. Curt enters and observes. One individual gets playfully called out for looking at his cell phone. Somewhere around 3:10 I experience a moment of self-doubt. A muddled call for help. Help appears.

3:30 Guitar Basics with Erin, Sandra and guitar buddies (adjustments are made)

Walking to tea time I am busy answering the question of one intro student. I am aware that there is a certain creative energy bubbling up, running over, from having taught. This is exactly like the energy generated in a performance. I am not fully present. I am, in a gambling sense, right now a big spender, a high roller. I am trying to answer the question in such a way as to look knowledgeable, even though I sense the person I am right now is not the right person for questions. We round the corner to find RF on the landing. I receive a shock. Even so, I am, for the next hour, unable to shut my mouth.

4:00 Tea time

Re-connecting with Hellboy Tom on our way up the hill. I find myself running down the hill, late for Keynotes.

5:00 Keynotes with Frank

We are introduced to Keynote-style observations, first-person, present tense. Several are given with comments from Frank.  

6:15 - Curt a floor turn in the Ballroom. A few laughs over my energy-leak creating frenzy to fix my earlier "mistake". Received positive feedback about my teaching. It seems I'm beginning to come into my own. 

Curt pointed out a porch which will likely become my teaching space for individual lessons.


7:00 Dinner

Several comments on Keynotes. Witnessing has been a theme - both on the course and in my personal life. Adrian asks how to apply Frank's advice to his guitar practice. Dave is asked to hold his question about calling upon an outside witness for feedback.

Our work for tonight? House of guitars! I chimed in, following a slightly impish impulse to support Leslie. After further reflection, the timing of this may have been off. 

More positive feedback from Adrian in regard to my teaching. I'll take it.

A conversation with SBC. I am grateful for her generosity at having made room for me on this course. SBC suggests I assume the role of AT teacher as she is now OM. Even though there is considerable overlap between OM and AT, this feels right. I'm given the green light to take the Intro team.

10:15 - House of Guitars. The outer circle seems unevenly divided, with more experienced circlers on the right-hand side of the room and intros on the left. I take a seat on the left beside Henry. The first 20 minutes or so sound timid, but musical. I have the sense that people are listening.

The lights go out, bringing with it a few internal struggles. To me, as we go, it seems we are more and more in the grips of relentless strumming and the good ideas of a few who don't seem to want to let the moment go long after its natural completion has arrived.

Exiting, I find Hideyo and Julia playing a piece in the corridor I recognize from the Mexico extended course but can't name. A welcome sight.

A walk back up the hilly shortcut to our cabin. Not so winded this time.

12:00 am - To bed. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

I feel as though I can't write until I have my own apartment again. There's a part of me I reserve for private places. I need privacy. I need solitude. Even if a thousand noises rise up around me, thump and bump at all sides, it doesn't matter if a particular space is mine. It gives me an excuse to be free with myself, to take off my mask of intellect and strip myself of expectation. I'm slow to know how I feel. I need places, physical places, where I can explore my internal landscape unencumbered. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Change is coming.

Sometimes you can feel your center of gravity begin to shift before anything has really happened - the future reaching into the present, pulling you forward. My tiny boat has begun to rock. It's strange how prepared I feel coming out of AT training and yet I find I am still scared. Will I be strong enough to face the days ahead? Will I find any help? Can I do any better than I've done?

And the small community of friends and teachers I've had over these last three years has already begun transitioning from the old to the new. These relationships will never be the same. I find this reality difficult to face without some measure of sadness and feeling of loss. I do, however, recognize how necessary all the steps to get to this point have been and am trying not to get too sentimental about the next one, wherever it takes me. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

out of darkness

The most honest moments of my life have been in longing. Not for your arms or your comfort, which are great, but for death. My journals are full of it. My heart is full of it. Too much to ever forget. How can I tell you this, lover? Without being misunderstood? That life without death is empty.

The summer I went from church to church like a beggar and none would admit me. Even the last (whose doors I thought would open) left me stranded outside the sanctuary. But I stayed. I knelt. And through a crack in the door I felt the slow leak of heavenly air-conditioning on my face and caught how the mingled scent of wooden pews and Frankincense filled the place. How can I tell you this? That I was born impoverished? That I was born from horrifically glorious moments of utter certainty that nothing I can do is right. That I was born as light is born - out of the darkness of night.

where the action is

It's raining in Santa Monica. Were I in Atlanta I would call this a drizzle but here anything that's wet and falls from the sky qualifies as rain. It makes for an interesting mix of odors - of asphalt and atmosphere, potted lavender in one doorway, a homeless person sleeping in the next.

I'm not complaining, but too much sunshine lends an invisibility to things after a while. Weather changes can inspire us to look at the same things differently, or look somewhere else entirely. Driven indoors I remember that, while California is endowed with great weather and an abundance of natural beauty, not everything worthwhile happens outside. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Viewing

his nose hadn’t been that big.
his face had been round,
not sallow and oval.
his hands alone were
recognizable; their rough
strength knew the way
of the soil and also
the Gardener’s secret:
casement broken,
the seed is the sapling is
the tree is the blossom is
the apple is a glass of
spiced cider or Nana’s
last jar of preserves.
of these nothing is lost
but it’s not understood.
we step forward unsure,
are unconvinced
by the makeup.
of the two, death
is the greater deceit.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

departures and arrivals

Why do I keep ending up where I am not? 

Monday, July 22, 2013

the spins

This morning, even after a long, deep sleep I find I awake still trapped in circular thinking. Taking a closer look I find this process is one that's purpose is twofold: 1. to decide how I should act according to what others might need or want from me, 2. to decide how I should feel about it. This is a land of hypotheticals and imagination, of clumsy paper-mache replicas and connect-the-dot drawings. There is a feeling which is tangible when you've hit upon something real. Something recognized by the body - maybe in the chest or solar plexus. None of these half-asleep, half-awake musings have that quality. The real question begins to emerge. Why this need to problem-solve? Especially when people aren't equations and no matter how much circumstantial evidence I put in, the answers I get out are largely based on my own past, disconnected from the present, dead. Just as dead is my attachment to outcomes outside of the moment. I want x to happen and y not to. How can I engineer this future for myself? What a tangled mess! Untangling however is thankfully, miraculously, mercifully simple. Be here, be honest, be brave. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

stone soup

I forget I have a choice, always, to be present and engage with others. I don't have to wait for them. Intimacy is a food. Sometimes it comes easily and naturally, sometimes it gets lost in the constant onslaught of day-to-day preoccupations. Sometimes I'm so hungry for it I lose perspective and, in my impatience, begin to blame others. But there is one thing I've learned and keep learning: you cannot wait for others to give, to be brave, to initiate, to move towards you - you must step forward yourself, and do it again and do it again. It's not a matter of taking what you need, people fall into that, but quite the opposite. It is stone soup. It is all of us in the kitchen together, giving from who and what we are, present to what it is we all essentially need - each other. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

33 years

Today I received a phone call from my Dad who received my letter. This was THE letter. The letter that took me 33 years to write. The one I believe we've both really needed. I don't know of anything you can understand a moment before you're ready, but sometimes readiness requires work and in this sense we haven't time to waste.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

right and good cont.

Tonight 'right' won over 'good.'  Why don't I feel better for it? People, somewhere not too far from me, are kissing under a crimson and white peony sky. Not all of them hate each other. I don't envy any of those people as individuals. I am my self. I have tiger lilies and words, ants too - a random one blazing its way across my desk or waking me with a tickle at the elbow or up the forearm. These tiny visitors are softer and kinder than a hair shirt, but not warmer.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

good and right

"Doesn't it feel good? I mean, doesn't it feel right?" Someone said this to me not too long ago. While it was more a suggestion than a question, I took the time to consider it. The assumption is that the answer to one will be the answer to both. It's convenient to lump these two together indiscriminately. It is decidedly inconvenient to lump these two together indiscriminately. The unnecessary is costly. Not everything that feels good is right. Conversely, not everything that is right feels good. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

with a view

Today I woke slowly. It's summer and for the first time since I've lived here I'm enjoying having the curtains drawn and my windows open. At this time of night you can hear grasshoppers and sounds from the 405. In the morning you can still hear the 405, but the grasshoppers are replaced by crows and occasionally a scream or two from the macaw that lives in the house behind ours. My view is of our neighbor's roof and the tops of the trees that line our street. The way the trees move is lovely and when you're beneath them you get the sense that their branches, similar to a weeping willow's, are reaching gently for you.

My room, having these last few days been slowly relieved of its mess, seems so large to me now.  Lately I've been too busy to pay it much mind. Now it feels strangely large. Large and quiet, as though it accepts me and I, in seeing, accept it. Perhaps these last days are the first I've really felt at home here. At home I'm allowed to feel simple and plain. I haven't felt this way, this strongly, in a while. It's wonderful. It occurs to me that simplicity and plainness are virtues, or can be, and I realize that I want to feel them more often. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

driving home

I saw the sun rise today. It's pink hues backlit the San Gabriel Mountains. I remember mornings when I was younger, laying in bed and watching the light (the miracle of light) gradually give shape, color and texture to the objects around me. How strangely they emerged from obscurity, carved out of darkness.

There's something beautiful about the world at rest, before the house stirs and the mechanics of our daily lives are set in motion. The streets are empty and the birds have not yet begun their chirruping. It was like that this morning. Driving home with the windows down I could feel the moisture in the air. Cool and clingy, it was dew settling on every still-calm or sleeping thing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

flowers from the Faire

Yesterday I had a hard time. I was having a hard time and it was looking like I might not find support. But support arrived. It arrived bearing gifts of affirmation. It arrived and didn't shun me for being a mess. It arrived drinking Pellegrino and smoking cigarettes. It arrived. It looked me in the eyes and told me I was worthy of love. And when, at these words, I began to cry, it kissed me. The kiss of kindness and understanding. So much so that today I am still tempted to believe.

Hope is a delicate thing.

It is also a hard thing.
How difficult it is at the onset to let it into your heart.
Your stubbornly armored heart.
Then it is harder still to hold onto.
And before all is said and done you may be asked again
To muster your courage.
For the hope that has to be let go of.

picking up the tab

Yesterday's rejection was the realization of one of my worst fears. So much so I have to ask myself if I didn't somehow make it happen. But, once I begin searching my faults for answers, I never seem to stop. There are too many to keep account and besides, on our own it is nearly impossible to have the full story.

But it's true that what we don't know about ourselves can hurt others. Avoiding putting people we care about through unnecessary pain is not the only reason for deep introspection and soul-searching, but it's not a bad one either. No one else should be asked to pick up the tab for our troubled histories or the agendas of our never-quite-satisfied personalities. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

I see in myself an inclination to avoid responsibility. But I want to be the kind of person who runs to, not from, these. Runs. I'll never accomplish my Aim if I keep moving in its opposite direction.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

born to nun

For a long time now I've held the belief that continuing to pursue my Aim in any real way requires a life of abstinence from romantic love and the long-term company of another. Sometimes I believe it is because I am unsuitable, sometimes I believe it's because of a lack of suitable partners. I'm not sure it really matters which, probably neither is the case. And why I decided this would be my sacrifice, I'm still not sure. But sometimes I wish I would just let it go.